3 things GrubHub's CEO should've considered before sending an anti-Trump email

Watch what you write in an email.

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GrubHub is in hot water, and I don’t mean because the company can deliver hot soup or boiled clams to your doorstep.

Last week, the GrubHub founder and CEO, Matt Maloney, sent an email after election day and informed employees about his viewpoint regarding the Donald Trump victory. I understand what he was saying--there is no place for hate speech.

Unfortunately, there’s been a fallout--namely with the stock price. And the app reviews. And from Twitter users. As reported by multiple outlets, Maloney has fallen under fire for the email and how it was so easy to misconstrue what he meant. It serves as a good lesson in making sure an email you send passes a few simple tests.

Here’s what he said:

“I absolutely reject the nationalist, anti-immigrant and hateful politics of Donald Trump and will work to shield our community from this movement as best as I can. As we all try to understand what this vote means to us, I want to affirm to anyone on our team that is scared or feels personally exposed, that I and everyone else here at Grubhub will fight for your dignity and your right to make a better life for yourself and your family here in the United States.”

He went on:

“If you do not agree with this statement then please reply to this email with your resignation because you have no place here. We do not tolerate hateful attitudes on our team.I want to repeat what Hillary said this morning, that the new administration deserves our open minds and a chance to lead, but never stop believing that the fight for what's right is worth it.”

To avoid the controversy, Maloney could have asked these questions:

1. Is what I’m saying against the law?

This might seem obvious, but it is definitely worth thinking about. If your email contains illegal information or something incredibly incriminating, it doesn’t make sense to release it into the wild. (Also consider not doing anything illegal or incriminating.) I’m no lawyer, but at first glance, it sure looks like insinuating that employees should resign if they are Trump supporters could be illegal, especially for a public company.

2. Are there any obvious contradictions?

Again, I’m not getting political here, but you could easily spot some contradictions in the email, whether you were for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Maloney is saying he wants GrubHub to be open to any viewpoint, any ideology, and any preference. Except that he is not open to a view that contradicts his own view. When you read the email, you might wonder how that all works. The message contradicts itself by suggesting that some viewpoints are not allowed.

3. Could what I’m saying be misconstrued?

The biggest problem with the email is that it is easy to misconstrue what he’s saying. Technically speaking, he didn’t tell anyone to resign. And yet, he did. The underlying message is that you don’t belong at GrubHub if you do not agree with the CEO and the statements he made in the email. A follow-up note backtracked on what he said.

The entire message seemed like something you’d say in a private meeting and explain your view -- that you won’t tolerate hate speech or bigotry. An email is a good choice to communicate facts and set direction, to provide an overarching summary of a project. It is not ideal as a way to explain a corporate viewpoint that could be easily perceived as controversial. It's a good idea to keep that in mind.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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